NGO WASH United first initiated the Menstrual Hygiene Annual Awareness Day with an aim to spread awareness about the importance of menstrual hygiene and its proper management. Its first celebration took place in 2014. The date 28th was selected to acknowledge that 28 days is the average length of a woman's menstrual cycle. The urge to celebrate the day rooted from the idea that despite being in the 21st century, across the world there are several myths about the menstrual hygiene that are passed on to women generation after generation without being questioned or analysed. We list down some of the most common menstrual hygiene related myths here -
Disposal of Sanitary Napkins
In several countries and cultures, sanitary pads are believed to be best disposed of separately, i.e. away from all other trash of the household. Disposing them of otherwise can lead to cancer is what the myth says. In South America's Bolivia, this belief is most prevalent.
Distance from Men
In some countries (mainly Asian) counties, there is a myth that calls for women to stay separately from men during their periods. In many parts of India and Nepal, they are alienated from the rest of the family, especially men, because women's 'uncleanliness' during periods is supposed to make men prone to certain diseases.
Say No to Shower or Swimming
In some cultures, women bathing or swimming during their menstrual cycle is believed to be 'unhygienic'. Though this myth was more popular in the older times, many cultures still follow it. Earlier there were common bathing spaces, no cloth pads, tampons etc. and therefore the restrictions. (Also, note that not taking a shower during periods can actually adversely affect a woman's health).
Cloth vs Sanitary Pads
There is also a myth that prevents women from using sanitary pads or tampons and only use cloths. This practice in several incidences is an economic constraint, but it is also a cultural restriction in many places. Usage of cloth pads is a healthier option because sanitary pads are not environment-friendly and made of plastic, but those who use a piece of clothes due to cultural restriction are also not allowed to dry the soiled cloth with regular clothes forcing them into wearing the dirty cloth for more than one day of their period.
Apart from hygiene-related myths, there are also several culture myths associated with a woman's monthly cycle. Most of these myths are only a result of unquestioned beliefs passed over generations. It is high time we take a collective stand to reason out and bust them. After all, periods are a sign of healthy womanhood. :)
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on May 28, 2018 12:21 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).